Eric B. & Rakim
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The duo popularized the jazz-influenced hip-hop of the late 1980s. The pair is generally considered to be one of the most influential and groundbreaking groups in the history of hip hop, due to both Eric B.'s jazzy production and Rakim's revolutionary rhyming style, which was smooth, seemingly effortless, and used remarkably complex rhyming schemes involving internal rhymes and sophisticated metaphors. It is the general consensus that almost all modern MCs have been influenced in some way by Rakim's rhyming technique. Eric B.'s use of a Bobby Byrd sample in "I Know You Got Soul" introduced a period of extensive use of old R&B and soul music as background music for hip hop songs.
Eric B. & Rakim began recording together in the middle of the decade with "Eric B. Is President" (1986 in music) from Zakia Records in Harlem, New York City. The single, produced by Eric B., who incorporated the bassline from the R&B club hit "Over Like A Fat Rat" by Fonda Rae, quickly became a hip-hop anthem. Paid in Full and Follow the Leader were their full-length debuts and were hits by hip hop's standards at the time. In 1989 the pair teamed up with singer Jody Watley for the Billboard pop top ten hit "Friends" featured on Watley's Larger Than Life album; this was one of the first collaborations of pop and hip hop artists. Much of their initial impetus and influence can be attributed to their now deceased mentor and deejay, FLAME 3 of the TPA graffiti crew.
The Coldcut "Seven Minutes Of Madness" remix of "Paid In Full" is considered a milestone in hip hop, remixes and sample based music and is arguably the groups most recognized hit. Despite its world wide success which led to the track entering many overseas top ten music charts, the duo claimed not to like the remix during its release.
The duo's last album together was Don't Sweat The Technique (1992). Its single "Know The Ledge" was the theme song to the urban feature film, Juice. The song was among their most popular hits. During the recording of that album, both members of the duo expressed an interest in creating solo albums. However, Eric B. refused to sign the label's release contract, fearful that Rakim would abandon him. This led to a long and messy court battle involving the two musicians and their former label MCA.